“Look at the bright side!” Why did Elon Musk decide to annoy the US and Ukrainian authorities by proposing to recognize Crimea as Russian?
The protracted Russian-Ukrainian crisis and the threat of its expansion into a global world conflict have forced many famous people to call for an end to the confrontation. The founder of Tesla and SpaceX , billionaire Elon Musk , did not stand aside either – his bright statements caused a huge scandal on both sides of the Atlantic. To resolve the conflict as soon as possible, the businessman advised to recognize Crimea as Russian, to secure a neutral status for Ukraine , and to hold repeated referendums in the territories recently annexed to Russia under UN supervision . Musk’s proposals, with the exception of the last one, actually repeat Moscow ‘s demands, which caused sharp criticism in his address both in Kiev and in Washington .
It is unlikely that the businessman expected a different reaction, but after a series of accusatory attacks in the press, he decided to suspend funding for Starlink satellite communications in Ukraine, which is used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Musk suggested that politicians take on these costs, but then he changed his mind and decided to continue supporting Kyiv. Why did the billionaire risk making anti-Ukrainian statements, angering the entire Western world, and what role did the upcoming US elections play in this ? Details – in the material “Times News“.
Very expensive controversy
With the onset of autumn, the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine took another sharp turn towards escalation. As the confrontation intensifies, the parties refuse to compromise and indirectly involve an increasing number of countries in the conflict, statements about the possible use of nuclear weapons began to be heard more often at the highest level. Thus, US President Joe Biden announced a direct threat of the use of atomic bombs for the first time since the Caribbean crisis and predicted Armageddon to the world.
A number of representatives of European countries were more accurate in their assessments, but also did not rule out such a scenario. “So far, we have not seen an increase in readiness [of Russian nuclear forces] or changes in Russian nuclear policy. However, we will remain vigilant,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned . Elon Musk could not stay away from the conflict either – the entrepreneur always shows a keen interest in the fate of mankind.
From the very beginning of the fighting, the billionaire publicly supported Kyiv and Russian citizens opposing the Russian military operation, he supplied equipment to Ukraine: power adapters for car lighters, solar panels and generators. But the most important thing is that Musk sent the terminals of the Starlink satellite Internet system to the Ukrainian side free of charge. They allow the military to operate even in conditions of complete communication blockade.
However, the growing tension seems to have forced the businessman to take a different look at the current confrontation. Musk came to the conclusion that the further continuation of the armed conflict could lead to nuclear war. And he proposed such a radical solution that he angered politicians around the world.
If Russia is faced with a choice: lose Crimea or use nuclear weapons on the battlefield, it will choose the latter. (…) But hey, look on the bright side! At least in this scenario, Russia won’t get Crimea, so you can take comfort in that thought as you watch the mushroom clouds rise.Elon Musk
in response to criticism of their proposals on the Crimea
First, Musk called for a new UN-supervised referendum in the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, as well as the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, recently joined by Russia. If the people decide to do so, Russia must withdraw from these regions. Secondly, the businessman believes that Crimea should be officially recognized as Russian territory, “as it was from 1783 until the mistake of Khrushchev,” who transferred the peninsula to the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian SSR in 1954. As part of future agreements, Ukraine will have to provide water supply to the Crimean peninsula and secure a neutral non-bloc status, he said.
At first, commentators on Twitter attacked Musk. He attributed this to a major bot attack. Then official representatives of the Kyiv authorities came out with sharp criticism. Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk , who had a few days left before the end of his term, sent the businessman to a well-known address in an obscene manner.
The billionaire did not remain in debt: on October 14, he announced that SpaceX could no longer pay for the work of Starlink in Ukraine, and added that he had only followed the advice of a Ukrainian diplomat. At the same time, journalists found out that back in September, the businessman sent a letter to the Pentagon with a request to reimburse him for the cost of providing the Ukrainian military with satellite communications.
However, already on the night of October 16, Musk nevertheless announced that he had changed his mind and would continue to pay for Starlink, despite huge losses. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, so… Guess I’m just damned,” he sneered sadly . The Pentagon did not respond to these messages until the day after the SpaceX scandal ended. The military department confirmed that it is studying the possibility of allocating funds to ensure the work of Starlink in Ukraine.
requested Musk to pay for the work of Starlink in Ukraine in 2022-2023 (of which 120 million by the end of this year)
This whole demarche of an eccentric businessman could be written off as anxiety due to a possible nuclear apocalypse or the loss of huge funds. However, literally the next day after his peace proposals for Ukraine, the businessman ran into another scandal.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Musk put forward a series of conditions for ending another heated territorial dispute over Taiwan. The billionaire is sure that the conflict over the island is inevitable, and it will cost the world economy very dearly. Musk called for Taiwan to be made a special administrative zone of China along the lines of Hong Kong , noting that the terms of such an agreement could be more lenient.
In response, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense decided not to buy Tesla electric cars, and the official representative of the Taiwanese administration in Washington, Xiao Bi Him, sharply criticized the businessman’s proposal. “Taiwan sells a lot of goods, but our freedom and democracy are not for sale,” she said. The world community is tense again. Indeed, in the Taiwan issue, Musk again opposed the official position of Washington, which recognizes the independence of the island.
The billionaire attributed his discouraging political fabrications to his love of “tomfoolery” on Twitter, although he acknowledged that this often gets him all sorts of problems. He called self-expression on the social network not only a way to convey ideas to an audience of one hundred million people, but also a kind of therapy for society. However, in the words of a businessman, one can notice a share of slyness.
In his ten-plus years of publicity as CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the mogul has attacked everyone and everything from former U.S. President Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders , to individual regulators, to rules set during the coronavirus pandemic and gender pronouns. He has a clear position on almost every issue on the US domestic and foreign policy agenda: supports universal basic income, the right to guns, a carbon tax, opposes some government subsidies, labor unions and is skeptical of state intervention in the economy, is an “absolutist of free speech” , as he himself says, a staunch opponent of political correctness and the culture of cancellation.
Musk always backs up his interest in questions of the world order with actions: he often donated funds to both Democrats and Republicans, declaring himself both moderate and socialist, and “social liberal and financial conservative.” Since 2002, Elon Musk has given a total of $1.2 million to politicians, parties, political action committees (PACs), and referendum campaigns, according to data compiled by the non-profit lobbying watchdog Open Secrets . That money went almost equally to Democrats ($542,000) and Republicans ($574,500).
spent Tesla and SpaceX lobbying their interests
According to Musk, that’s how much it costs to do business in the US. The billionaire drew attention to the fact that political contributions are necessary in order to have the right to vote in the government of the United States. Given these statements of his, Musk’s behavior no longer looks like simple tomfoolery. This is more like signals to the political elites about the need to take control of the deteriorating situation in the international arena, which threatens with losses for large American businesses and a serious blow to the American economy.
A businessman, using social networks, acts as a rational player who tries to use his political influence to the maximum. This is confirmed by a letter sent to the Pentagon in September from SpaceX asking them to take over the cost of operating Starlink in Ukraine. A source familiar with the discussions also said that in fact the decision to continue the operation of the network, and hence the success of the Ukrainian military, depends entirely on one person – Elon Musk. “He is not elected, no one has decided to give him power. He has it thanks to technology and the company he built, ”the source told CNN.
This echoes comments Musk made last month at an exclusive private conference in Aspen, Colorado called The Weekend. According to one of the participants in the meeting, Musk was unequivocal about the need to end the conflict in Ukraine. “Now is the time to do it. They don’t want to do it, that’s for sure. But now is the time to start. Everyone wants to seek peace when they lose, but don’t want to seek peace while they win,” the billionaire said, according to a person in the audience.
Cold reception, cold response
On the other hand, the recent high-profile statements of the tycoon, who risked trying on the role of a mediator in resolving the international crisis, may be related to the conflict with the Joe Biden administration. Relations between the entrepreneur and the Democrats have cooled after the White House chose the tactic of ignoring the shrewish billionaire because of his attacks on labor unions and calls for the Senate to block the US Democratic Party’s key social spending bill.
Musk said the $2 trillion spending package would add to the “insane” federal budget deficit and disagreed with the need to stimulate certain types of businesses, including electric cars. He also noted that the current president is too old for a second term. Apparently, in retaliation, in early February, the US administration did not invite the world’s largest electric car manufacturer, Tesla, to an industry event dedicated to the production of electric vehicles.
The offended businessman called the American leader a puppet in human form and added that Biden was holding citizens for fools.
I’ve voted Democrats in the past because they were (mostly) the goodness party. But they have become a party of division and hatred, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican.Elon Musk
Musk is also alarmed by the split in American society. The entrepreneur sees a threat in the growing influence of the left forces on America and the undisguised sympathy for them from the Democratic Party , which reduce any dialogue with the Republicans to the struggle of irreconcilable antagonists. In April, he even tweeted a cartoon depicting political moderates, including himself, standing still on the political spectrum as the left accelerates into extremism, pulling back from the center and making moderates appear right-wing by comparison. .
In this context, Musk’s proposals on the Ukrainian crisis and the Taiwan issue, which are clearly at odds with the official position of Washington, look like a defiant refusal to support the course of the US authorities. Here, Musk, as an opinion leader with a hundred million audience, can become a significant help in the midterm elections to Congress for the Republican Party , in whose ranks there is no single position on providing military support to Kiev.
In June, the businessman already announced that he had voted for Republican Party candidate Maira Flores and said that he was ready to support the Republican, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis , if he ran for the White House. In addition, the billionaire has already begun to think about the future of political power in the upcoming presidential elections: for example, he criticized the candidacy of former US President Donald Trump and called on him to “sail into the sunset.”
In the expert community, there are already suggestions about the far-reaching political ambitions of the most extravagant billionaire: from the desire to get a seat in the US Congress to the intention to take the presidency. However, all these reflections have little in common with reality. Musk, being a native of South Africa , does not have the right to become head of state according to the second article of the American constitution, which allows only native US citizens to be elected president. At the same time, it is worth remembering that a place in the political establishment is not something necessary for an entrepreneur. The head of cutting-edge technology companies and one of the richest people on Earth, already has enough political weight to influence processes not only in the United States, but in the world in his interests.
Although Musk’s latest statements are out of the general Western trends, one should not overestimate their significance, because this can really be not only an attempt to shock the public, but also an accurate commercial calculation. But this will become clear later. So far, nothing definite can be said about the intentions of the businessman, but it is worth remembering that the entrepreneur has not only a consistent political position on many issues, but most importantly, the ability to put it into practice.